The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity is pleased to join with dozens of our fellow think tank partners in support of keeping automobile prices low. California adopted statewide motor vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission rules in September 2004 to impose very strict limits on the emission of CO2 from automobile tailpipes. While the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) generally preempts states from adopting their own motor vehicle emission regulations, CAA Section 209(b) allows the state to petition for a California waiver from that prohibition. If EPA grants such a waiver to California, other states may then adopt (without amendment, by legislation or executive order) the California regulatory regime.
In December 2005, California requested that EPA grant a waiver of preemption for its GHG regulations for automobiles. In April, 2007, the United States Supreme Court, in Massachusetts vs. EPA, empowered EPA to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act. As a result, the California waiver request came under active consideration at EPA. The request was denied in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration. However, in January 2009, the California Air Resources Board requested that EPA reconsider its denial. In July 2009, the Obama administration granted California’s waiver request, clearing the way for California to implement its motor vehicle GHG regulations – and for other states to follow suit.
Currently, 13 States – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – and the District of Columbia have adopted California’s stricter automobile emissions standards. In addition, nine – CT, ME, MD, MA, NJ, NY, OR, RI, and VT – have adopted California’s “zero emission vehicle” (ZEV) mandate.